Labour and employment: foreign firms in Singapore

Ashurst LLP

George Cooper chairs Ashurst LLP's regional labour and employment practice from the Melbourne office, assisted by Sydney and London based teams. The practice assists multinational clients with the setting up of Asian operations,  including drafting employment contracts and policies, dismissals,  restructuring and reorganisations, as well as carrying out investigations and disciplinary measures. Senior associate Karen Mitra is the main contact in Singapore where she advises on international employee mobility and restructurings, with a particular focus on the employment aspects of anti-bribery and corruption matters.

Practice head(s):

George Cooper

Key clients

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group


Commonwealth Government of Australia

Work highlights

  • Assisted a global supplier of construction materials with its internal investigations into misconduct on the part of a senior employee based in Asia.
  • Advised a trading company on a large-scale redundancy exercise involving its support functions in Singapore.
  • Advised the government of the Republic of Indonesia on the employment aspects of its acquisition of one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines.
  • Advised an Australian investment bank on the employment aspects of its acquisition of a significant solar development portfolio.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance provides 'an outstanding, seamless service' on a range of employment issues covering advisory work, dispute resolution and the employment aspects of major transactions. The practice is also known for its expertise in regulatory risk management, personal data, privacy, confidentiality, appraisals in respect of bonus allocations, disciplinary actions and appeals. Corporate lead Valerie Kong and dispute resolution partners Kabir Singh, Nish Shetty, Harpreet Singh Nehal SC and Melissa Ng are the key practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Kabir Singh, Valerie Kong

Key clients

Henkel Group

Airbus S.A.S

Navis Capital Partners


Work highlights

  • Advising on employee issues including investigations, breaches of company policies and disciplinary proceedings arising out of an investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in Singapore relating to construction contracts awarded for the redevelopment of a major shopping mall in Singapore.
  • Advising a major European bank on a multi-jurisdictional investigation relating to potential misconduct of its senior employees.
  • Assisted a network of fitness clubs with the acquisition of a chain of wellness retreats with operations in Indonesia and Hong Kong.
  • Advising a client on the implementation of its global all-employee share plan.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is praised for its 'hands-on approach and pragmatic advice' that is 'underpinned by a great grasp of the detail'. Key areas of work for the team include risk management and terminations, investigations, restructuring, crisis management and advising on the employment law aspects of cross-border M&A transactions. Fatim Jumabhoy leads 'a great team' that 'seamlessly coordinates multi-jurisdiction employment law matters across the region'.  

Practice head(s):

Fatim Jumabhoy


‘The team are very commercial – they understand the issues we face as a business and offer very practical solutions.

‘The practice is great, but Fatim stands out for me. Great hands-on, pragmatic advice but underpinned by a great grasp of the details.’

‘Fatim Jumabhoy, is an excellent operator, leading a great team.’



Linklaters' 'impressive' employment practice is headed by Laure De Panafieu, who is noted for her 'exceptional expertise in local and foreign labour law' and her 'strong courtroom presence' in employment disputes. The firm advises on the full gamut of labour matters, ranging from day-to-day employment issues including contracts of engagements and terminations, restraints of trade, employee transfers, issues arising from M&A and joint ventures and dispute resolution. The arrival of senior managing associate Claire Matthews from the London office in late 2018, further bolstered the practice's offering in employee incentives. Managing associate Chaiyee Oh is also noted and has particular expertise in incentives-related issues arising out of cross-border M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

Laure De Panafieu 

Other key lawyers:

Claire Matthews; Chaiyee Oh


‘Laure de Panafieu is very available for her clients and delivers on the promise. She combines her knowledge of local Singapore (employment) law with a broader view of labour, industry and commercial practices throughout the Western world. The product she delivers is always very complete and finished.’

‘Laure de Panafieu is without doubt the best foreign employment lawyer in Singapore. She is extremely hardworking and able to come up with creative solutions.’


Key clients

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited

JO Hambro Capital Management Group


Brookfield Asset Management

M&G Real Estate Asia Pte. Ltd

RGE Group


Work highlights

  • Acted for Noble Group in a high-value and complex litigation before the Singapore High Court brought by its former Group CEO relating to forfeited incentives and bonuses, and Noble’s counterclaim relating to an alleged breach of restrictive covenants and fiduciary duties.
  • Advised MoneyGram International on various employment law issues, including legal considerations on bonus-related matters in Singapore, Hong Kong and PRC.
  • Advised Linde on its APAC restructuring exercise, as part of the Linde-Praxair merger, which included assisting with redundancy payments, communications script, notice of redundancy and mutual separation agreements in Singapore, the PRC, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, India and Australia.
  • Assisted Ant Financial (Alipay (Hong Kong) Holding Limited) on employment due diligence concerning its acquisition of WorldFirst.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

At Baker McKenzie Wong & LeowAlexander Aran leads the international employment practice, which frequently draws on the strength and expertise of the firm's wider network of global offices. The practice provides 'seamless cross-border advice in a commercial and accessible way' and primarily acts for major clients in the banking, media, transport and pharmaceutical sectors on the employment law aspects of cross-border transactions.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Aran


Aran Alexander is knowledgeable about a number of frameworks and able to deliver advice in a commercial, accessible way with consideration of the relevant risks and an understanding of the clients’ business approach.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a global social media and technology company on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment law matters across nearly 60 jurisdictions.
  • Advising a global software company on its global employment matters with respect to its expansion.
  • Advising a global media and entertainment company on ongoing employment matters across several jurisdictions.

K&L Gates Straits Law LLC

K&L Gates Straits Law LLC, the result of K&L Gates LLP's merger with Straits Law Practice LLC in January 2019, has significant capability in Singapore law matters and a predominant focus on representing employers. The team assists with post-transaction workforce integration and the related-employment law aspects of mergers, acquisitions and divestments in the Asia Pacific region. Christopher Tan is the key figure.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Tan

Work highlights

  • Advised a technology company on the Singaporean aspect of an employment due diligence exercise for a strategic investment into Grab.

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs's team, which is 'responsive' and provides 'value-for-money', assists clients in the retail, financial services, media and technology sectors with day-to-day employment matters, including reviewing employment documentation, recruitment and transfers, and post-transaction integration, often involving the sale of businesses. Practice head Julia Yeo and associate Isha Malhotra handle contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, with the latter particularly noted for employment matters related to India.

Practice head(s):

Julia Yeo

Other key lawyers:

Isha Malhotra


Julia Yeo is confident in her advice and is able to explain it very clearly or ask the right questions in order to get the information she needs in order to provide the advice required. She is collaborative and always seeks to understand the root of the problem.’

Key clients

Xiaomi Corporation

IHS Markit

Tata Communications

Berry Appleman Leiden


Sherwin Williams


Work highlights

  • Advised Berry Appleman Leiden on the entire transfer of employees and reduction in force/retrenchment of its Singapore and China offices.
  • Assisting Babylon Health with hiring clinicians in 11 jurisdictions as part of its regional expansion in Asia.
  • Advised on the employment aspects of Coats’ acquisition of Threadsol.
  • Advised Tata Communications on redundancy and poor performance termination situations in jurisdictions including Malaysia and Indonesia and liaised with Nigerian counsel for termination of dual employment in Singapore and Nigeria.